Tuesday, March 4, 2014

top5 Tuesday (March 4) SMOKE SIGNALS

Some friends have recently asked about smoky beers, which I have fallen for this past year. Personally I'm not a smoker, but I love the smell of a good campfire, a BBQ roasting/smoking, something delicious, and the smell of a good pipe. I think these scents are fantastic. So what if you could put the best of these aromas in a beer...? Well, that exactly what smoky beers aim to do, and some do it quite well. Here are some of my favorites.

my top5 smoky beers  
  • Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen - BJCP Classic Style for a Rauchbier (German Smoked Beer). I first tasted this in a BJCP class and fell in love with it's flavor immediately, so darn tasty, it's hard to believe they use only 3 ingredients! If you're not familiar with Reinheitsgebot, it's Germany's purity law for their beer, that they put in place back in the 1400's. If you brewed in Deutschland, you could only use; water, barley, and hops. (They didn't know about yeast back then, but that's another story.) This was largely due to their high volumes of brewing that they ended up creating a wheat and rye shortage throughout the country. Since both wheat and rye were used for baking bread, this meant less grains for making food, and therefore the law was set in place, to help ration their supplies. In the 1990's the law was revised to include wheat and rye again, but many traditional German breweries, still follow Reinheitsgebot.
  • Left Hand Smoke Jumper, Imperial Smoked Porter - A strong beer, that smells and tastes like bacon, and inspired my homebrew PIG+FIG.
  • Class of 88' Imperial Smoked Porter - Solid straight up smoked beer. I find it quite enjoyable, it's easy to drink and I love the richness in both the porter mouth feel and the smoky aromas. 
  • Pipeworks Chipotle Smoked Porter - If you love spicy heat and smoke, then this is the beer for you, go get yourself a bomber, right now. 
  • Evil Twin Ashtray Heart - Awesomely accurate on name... Aroma is of ashes, tastes super smoky, a deeply roasted darkness with a clean smooth finish. Not for the faint of heart... this beer is for the smoky adventurer, the advanced lover of smoke, don't start with a pint of this one. 

smoke origin

Smoky beers have been around for hundreds of years. Brewers used to dry malts either by direct sunlight or over an open flame, and those which were over open flame, would sometimes carry over the smoky characteristics to the beer. In the early 1700's kilns became common for drying grain, making smoky beers, less and less common. But there were some German breweries who kept the traditional methods of smoking the malts, such as Schlenkerla, also listed above. They are considered to be a classic example of a smoked beer.

Today, you can purchase smoked malts, like cherrywood, or smoke the grains yourself using different scented wood chips to bring out a variety of flavors and depths of aromas.


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